This is the homework for the fifth meeting of the Job Club that may be especially helpful to people with disabilities.
INTERVIEWS: Dress for success, fielding questions, mock interviews
- DCPL Job Seekers www.dclibrary.org/jobseekers
- District Commons www.districtcommons.org/jobclub
- Dress For Success www.dressforsuccess.org
Dress for Success in DC provides professional attire, a network of support, and career development tools for disadvantaged women.
- Job Interview tips from About.com
NFB Newsline Job Listings
Job seekers who are blind and print-disabled can search for job openings that match their education, skills, and interests on NFB Newsline.
Limit by location, commute distance, type of job, salary etc.
Story of example interview
-How I started volunteering at the DC Public Library
-Searched volunteer page of dc public library web site
-Called first, asked about volunteer availabilities, qualifications
-Filled out the document and sent it
-E-mailed, and set up an appointment for an interview
-Dress code ; casual but nice (careful)
-Hygiene – special care
-Security Check from the police office
Do a Mock Interview
Q: Why would you like to join our company?
A: I enjoy subject of work
Q: Why did you leave your last job?
A: I wanted more challenge
Q: I heard that you left your job because you couldn't adapt to the new computer system.
A: There were some accessibility issues, but I have taken training courses and I felt that my real contributions could be better used at a company like yours: Field question with confidence
Q: How does your past prepare you for this job?
A: Established connections, gained experience
Imagine Questions might be asked – prepare questions
- Why are you interested in our company? / Why would you like to join this company?
- What do you know about our company?
- What would you contribute to our company? / Why do you think you are suited to this company or position?
** Interviewer – any questions about the company
Interviewee – question about company -- to see if you did your homework / why you want to work here
- Strong hand shake
- Small talk ; ice-breaking (talking about weather and sports)
Interviews are: Preparation, Presentation and Passion.
Preparing will quiet your nerves and enable you to demonstrate confidence.
Smile, make eye contact, use a firm handshake, and exhibit good posture. Give strategic answers.
Demonstrate value and compatibility. Show passion.
2. Preparing for an Interview
Research the company: products, services, interviewer, customers, competitors. Discuss your skills in this context.
Practice your answers aloud. Be comfortable. Perform a mock interview.
Prepare Index Cards.
…be late. Arrive 10-15 minutes early.
…use jargon, slang or profanity.
…interrupt the interviewer.
…become too familiar with the interviewer.
…talk about your lifestyle or personal life. DO NOT talk about the .nanny situation..
…let your responses exceed two minutes.
…bad mouth past employers or bosses.
……leave your cell phone turned on.
…refer to the interviewer by his/her first name, unless asked to do so.
…ask about salary or benefits.
…ask for days off for scheduled events.
Practice your handshake.
Make sure your hands are clean and well manicured. Your hand should be warm and free from perspiration.
Bring copies of your resume and list of references.
Be on Time,
Dress Appropriately -- conservatively, but stylishly. Be neat, clean and well pressed. Check for missing buttons, an uneven or dragging hems, strings and spots. Avoid jangling or flashy jewelry. Avoid clothing that is too tight or too short. Do not wear overpowering perfumes, colognes, or aftershaves.
Be Aware of Your Posture.
Do not cross your legs (men or women); it creates a barrier between you and the interviewer. Sit toward the front of the chair, leaning slightly forward. Beware of fidgeting, drumming your fingers, and bouncing your feet/legs. This communicates nervousness.
Introduce yourself to the receptionist and others that come into contact with you. Never underestimate the influence of "silent interviewers" (receptionists, secretaries, maintenance, employees). Your interviewer may speak with these individuals to get feedback on how you acted, whether you were prepared and how you treated others. The more people you meet, the more you increase your chances to be remembered.
Make sure your cell phone is off.
Engage your interviewer as much as possible. Notice things. This can be a quick ice breaking way to establish a connection.
Prepare a list of questions to ask the interviewer. You will be asked if you have any questions. Answering, .No. conveys a lack of interest in the position. Only ask a few. You should be asking questions that show you have done homework on the company and have thoughtful questions that you want answered to see if the fit is right for you as well as for them.
Collect Business Cards. Ask about Timeframes. Collect business cards from everyone performing the interview. Ask about timeframes for filling the position, how and when you will be notified of the hiring decision.
Do Not Discuss Salary or Benefits.
Types of Interviews
There are two types of interviews: .informational. and .job..
At an informational interview, you are seeking information about the job, company, and training requirements. Your goal is to find out what it is like to do the job.
In a job interview, the company is interviewing you for a specific job.
Informational interviews are a good tool for making contacts and helping you determine if you want to work at a specific company or in a specific field. You are the one who makes the call and requests that an informal meeting be set up with a company representative. The benefits of doing informational interviews include:
. You become familiar with the field, its jargon, and the important issues.
. You get to see how different environments can shape a career and eliminate places that are not a fit for you.
. You expand your network.
. You get the chance to practice presenting yourself professionally in a field that interests you, in a low-pressure situation.
. You may learn that the company is planning to expand in the near future and that there will soon be openings.
Follow the same guidelines regarding etiquette (dress and professional behavior) that you would in a job interview.
Write or call to arrange the interview at least one week in advance. Identify yourself and state the nature of your research. You might give the interviewee some idea of the types of questions you will ask.
When you place the call, ask the contact for 15-20 minutes of time and give reassurance that you are NOT looking for a job but, rather, contacts in the industry or information about their function within the organization. You might also ask if your contact is willing to look over your resume. Once the interview is scheduled, go prepared with specific questions.
A good question to ask is what are the biggest challenges facing this company and industry now and in the future. Are there different challenges? You may be able to find out the challenges by Googling the industry or checking them out with the local chamber of commerce or other social networks.
The meeting should be kept short (15-30 minutes). Stick to your time allotment; the person you are meeting will appreciate your respect for his or her time schedule. Ask the interviewer for a business card; also ask for the names of other people with whom you can talk. DO NOT ASK FOR A JOB. If the person knows of something that would fit you, he or she will tell you, or will tell you whom you should contact.
You should create a list of three to five prospects; with multiple prospects, you will not be discouraged if one person turns you down.
Soon after each interview, write a Thank You note, expressing appreciation for your contact‘s time and interest. You might also highlight some of the points you learned from your discussion. Snail-mailed. notes generally are more appreciated than e-mails. Express your gratitude for the information you received. Keep the person informed of your progress; you might want to send him/her a copy of any report you write about your findings.
Conducting an Effective Informational Interview
Keep these pointers in mind:
. Define your purpose for the interview. Are you seeking information about a company, position, or industry?
. Research. Research the profession, organization, and person with whom you will be interviewing.
. Prepare. Make a list of questions you want to ask. Think of some that would be interesting to answer.
. Practice. Practice interviewing people for fun.
. Listen. Listen to what the individual is saying. Show enthusiasm and appreciation and maintain good eye contact.
. Take notes. This will lend credibility and give you information for a targeted follow-up letter or note. Taking notes also will help you remember all
information and contacts discussed during your meeting.
. Be prepared. The person you are interviewing may have questions to ask you.
There are several types of interviews:
This is a screening interview that's become an increasingly common method, as it is a more efficient use of time and reduces interviewing costs. Be prepared for this call. If not prepared, schedule it for another time. Don't allow distractions. Be prepared for salary questions. Make sure you have your resume in front of you and be prepared with your elevator speech. HINT: Standing up increases your energy level and presentation focus. Have your index cards with accomplishments handy.
This is the most typical interview style. It is characterized by broad questions (Tell me about yourself. What are your strengths? Weaknesses? Why do you want to work for this company?)
This is a team or panel of people (between three and six people) who interviews one individual. Each person generally focuses on one set of competencies.
This is the least common type of interview. A group of candidates interviewed together to observe the candidates within a team environment.
Serial one-on-one interviews conducted by various members of the organization. A structured evaluation tool is often used in this environment.
Normally, this is a spontaneous meeting with a top executive, who will give the candidate a quick .once over.. This is a good sign – you are being presented to the executive for final approval. Your meeting will brief; perhaps a minute or two. You may want to have a few questions prepared for this circumstance.
The Dinner/Lunch Interview
If you are asked to lunch or dinner, accept. This is another opportunity for mutual evaluation. However, observe the proper social etiquette. Don't smoke or drink. Be careful about what you order. Occasionally, your spouse may be invited, which you should definitely accept. Many job opportunities cannot be carried out without family support (i.e., travel, overtime, relocation, etc.). Be careful not to over share information. Remember this is an interview and not a casual chat.
There are various techniques that can be employed during a job interview:
. Question & Answer
The most commonly used format for interviewing.
This is a technique normally used by an individual who is not skilled in conducting an interview. In this case, you as the well-researched candidate can direct the interview and turn it to your advantage.
This places you under varying levels of stress to determine how you will respond a difficult situation.
The questions asked are situational and used as part of a structured interview process. The interviewer is looking for technical skills and performance skills. Behavioral interview questions are pre-planned, directed toward specific examples, and are open-ended. Typically, the interviewer will probe with follow-up questions for more in-depth information on the situation under discussion. The premise is that past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior.
Informational Interview Sample Questions are provided at the end for additional reference.
The Flow of the Interview
There are four parts to the Interview:
1. The Opening
There is typically a period of "small talk" that allows you and the interviewer to become
comfortable talking with each other. Allow the interviewer to control the interview and
decide when to go on to the next phase.
2. Information About the Job and the Company
This includes a description of the company as well as the job opening. Your objective is to
ask the right questions about the job and relate your skills and experience to the job demands.
Focus your questions on the work to be done – NOT factors surrounding the work (benefits,
salary, hours, etc.)
3. Information About You
The interviewer will ask questions about your background and experiences. If you don't understand a question, ask that it be repeated or explained. When giving answers: Be positive! Be brief and to the point.
4. Closing the Interview
Summarize your qualifications and the fit to the interviewer. Identify and address any reservations that the interviewer may express. Get the next steps defined BEFORE you leave. Thank the interviewer before leaving. Then, if the job appears to be a good fit, follow-up and continue pursuing the job.
Help the interviewer run a good interview. If the person is inexperienced, don't show irritation with delays and interruptions. Be sure that you have highlighted why you would be a good fit for the job.
Evaluating the Interview
The Interviewer is looking for...
. Competency - Your ability to do this particular job..
. Compatibility - Your ability to relate effectively to the full range of other employees in the organization..
. Chemistry - Do they like you?.
You (The Candidate) are looking for....
. Competence - The ability to perform the specific functions of the position effectively..
. Compatibility - How do you feel about the organizational culture? Is it consistent with your values? Do you want to work in a place like this?.
. Chemistry - Do you like these people?.
. Compensation - Can you do the job for what they will pay?.
How Will You be Evaluated?
In general, you will be evaluated on the qualities listed below:
. Personal Impression .
Attitude (usually "hot buttons") Neatness
Energy Level Sincerity
. Communication Skills
Conciseness Verbal Communication Skills
Logical Responses Written Communication Skills
. Leadership Potential
Assertiveness Decision Making Ability
Expertise Specialized Training
Knowledge in Your Field Work Experience
. Vocational Maturity
Clearly Defined Goals Level of Preparation
Knowledge of Strengths Realistic Self-Concept
Knowledge of Weaknesses
Job Interview Tips
NEVER, NEVER turn down an interview. You have no idea what kind of relationship could be started, even if that particular job isn‘t for you. And interviews keep you in practice.
Are your nervous about the interview? Ask a friend or colleague to run though a mock interview situation with you. Or, practice in front of a mirror to observe your body language and establish a comfort level with your responses.
ASK for information. When a recruiter sets you up with an on-site interview, ask that person what types of skills the hirer is seeking. In turn, highlight those skills when speaking with the hiring manager. Recruiters have the best sense for what the hiring manager is seeking, and, the recruiter wants you to get the position as much as you do!
When going on interviews, you can never go wrong if you‘re dressed better than the interviewer.
. Be well-rested
. Be yourself
. LISTEN carefully
. Answer the questions you are asked
. Be brief - cut the details and concentrate on the results generated
. Be aware of your body language
. Watch for signs of nervousness (laughing, fidgeting, playing with your hair, etc.).
. Avoid using silence fillers like "um" or "ah" or otherwise rambling answers
. Be positive!
. Thank them for their time
. Lie or exaggerate - if hired, this is grounds for dismissal
. Dominate the interview rather, control what information gets across by being prepared
. Give answers that are long
. Give the interviewer more information than requested
. Be critical of your former employers or supervisors
. Tell long stories - keep your answers brief and to the point
. Be afraid or uncomfortable with silence. Take time to think through the difficult questions.
. Do not say .I just need a job, any job..
BE PREPARED FOR THE “SALARY” QUESTION
Most interviewers are trained to ask the following questions in some form or fashion:
What are you making now? What is your current salary?
What are you past earnings? What did you make in your last position?
What salary are you worth? What would you like to be earning in 5 yrs?
Your best bet is to be prepared with an answer.
First try avoidance or postponing the discussion:
. Salary won‘t be a problem. But I‘m not exactly sure what the job is, so maybe we can talk more about that. I‘m very flexible, and I‘m sure that when we come to some agreement on the job, we can work out the salary.
. I‘m making very good money right now, and I deserve it. But, I would hate to tell you what it is because I‘m afraid it will put you off. I know that salary will not be a problem. I‘m a fair person and I‘m sure you are too. I know we will come to an agreement.
. I am paid very well, and I am worth it. But I am interested in your company and I am willing to make an investment in this, if you are. As far as I‘m concerned, salary won‘t be a problem.
. Frankly, I always keep that sort of information confidential, partly because I think I owe that to my past employer, but mostly because I think it would be misleading. I am sure you can understand why. WHY? Well, if what I earned was higher than what you wanted to pay, you might think that I am overqualified. If it‘s under, you might think me under qualified. I would prefer to be judged on my ability to do the job. What did you have in mind?
If you are forced to give an answer:
. My current compensation package in the range of $__________ and my research indicated your company is competitive. Am I correct?
. I am earning very good money right now in the $__________ to $__________ range, depending on bonuses. And I am certainly worth it. But, I am very interested in your
company, and I know we can work something out.
. I made in the (high or low) $______________.
. My current position is worth $_____________. However, it seems that positions like mine in the market place are worth a base salary of $______________.
What salary are you worth?
. An employee‘s worth is measured by his or her contribution to an employer. I expect to contribute and to be paid a salary commensurate with that contribution. I know you will be
fair, otherwise I would not accept an offer or stay.
. Once hired, my first priority is to do the job I‘m being paid to do. If I perform well, I expect to advance accordingly. However, money is not foremost in my mind. Too much concern
about the paycheck can lead to a poor attitude and result in a poor job. As long as my focus is doing the best job possible, I doubt I will have anything to worry about.
What would you like to be earning in five years?
. At any point in my career, I‘d like my salary to keep pace with inflation and be competitive with what similar positions pay.
. I don‘t see myself as an .average. employee. I always strive for excellence and never settle for anything less than .above average.. So logically, my income should reflect that.
. As long as my paycheck is an investment by the company that earns a return, the higher the rate of return the more it should invest. If I‘m not performing at anytime, I should not be here. I have no illusions about employment as a value for relationships.
What is your salary history?
. I would be happy to give you specific numbers and percentage of increase, from year to year, but I am not able to recite them from memory now. Salary just is not as important to me as opportunity.
. At every salary review, I received merit increases. My salary has always been a reflection of my work progress and contribution to my employer‘s success. Anything less than that does not work for long.
What is your minimum salary interest?
. Talk about your interest more in making contribution and your match to company needs. Then ask a question about responsibility, etc.
. If forced to give an answer: respond with range, with midpoint of market range being the minimum of your salary range. (Know the salary market and know your contribution, so you are above the average!)
5.3 Thank You Letters and Follow Up
Write and send a thank-you note to each interviewer that you interviewed expressing appreciation for their time and your continued interest in the position. Thank you notes should be emailed or snail mailed within 24-48 hours of the interview/contact. Many decisions are made within the 24-48 hour time frame, while people still prefer snail mail rather than email that is a decision you will need to make. Use your judgment based on the organization (high tech usually is very accepting of emailed thank you notes).
. Personalize the letters to each person. Do this whether or not you are interested in continuing to pursue the job.
. Use the information gathered during the interview in order to build rapport with the person receiving the letter.
. Thank people for their courtesy and time.
. Use thank you letters as a further marketing opportunity to:
o Increase your visibility,
o Ensure the employer is familiar with your name,
o Restate your enthusiasm and continued interest in the position,
o Stress your qualifications,
o Add or correct any significant information or relevant point that you may have forgotten to mention or turn around any objections that occurred during the interview,
o Remind them of the next step.
Remember to be courteous and contact the employer if you are no longer interested in the
Place a call to the hiring manager about 10-14 days after the interview to follow-up on the status of the position. This re-emphasizes your interest in the position and it reminds them of you.
If you‘re rejected, don‘t be discouraged. Ask the interviewer to suggest how you could improve your resume/interview skills. If your resume and interview skills are fine, you might ask about other opportunities either within the organization or in other firms with which the employer is familiar.
Reasons for rejection can include the following:
. Applicant shows no real interest, enthusiasm or knowledge about the company
. Applicant‘s skills and interests don't match the needs of the company
. Applicant has poorly defined career plans and goals
. Applicant is unable to express him or herself clearly
. Applicant lacks knowledge of field of specialization
. Applicant is not prepared for the interview
. Applicant is too interested in salary and vacation schedules
. Applicant is evasive
. Applicant arrived late
. Failure to make eye contact
. Applicant has poor personal appearance
. Applicant has a sloppy application form or resume
. Applicant shows a lack of courtesy, maturity and/or tact
. Employer is unable to meet the desired salary requirements
A.6 Informational Interview Sample Questions
Below are sample questions you can ask on your information interview:
. What is a typical day like here? What do you actually do?.
. What are the most interesting aspects of your job?.
. What do you especially enjoy about your work?.
. What are some of the difficulties and frustrations of your work?.
. What are the characteristics of successful people in your organization?.
. What are some of the important factors that have contributed to your success?.
. What were the jobs that you had which led to this one?.
. What skills are most important to be competent in this field?.
. What degrees and/or training are necessary for this kind of work?.
. What types of training do companies give to persons entering this field?.
. What courses or field experiences would be beneficial to prepare for this field?.
. Is there a present demand for people in this field? In the next two to three years?.
. How stable is the job market in this field? Is government funding a major factor?.
. Do you see new types of positions developing?.
. How mobile and flexible can one be in this occupation? Location? Hours?.
. What are the salary ranges for various levels in this field?
. Do you have information on job specifications and descriptions that I may have?.
. What sources of literature would you recommend to learn more about this profession?.
. What professional organizations would you recommend? Should I join them now?.
. Are you doing what you thought you would be when you started?.
. Any hidden time bombs impacting this company or industry? (patent running out, competitor coming up with newer version of software, etc.).
. What are the biggest challenges that this company faces now and in the future?.
. Are there other individuals who might talk with me and provide further information? May I use your name?.
A.7 Sample Questions Employers May Ask During an Interview
Employers may ask you the following:
. Tell me about yourself. (This often is the first question/.stress interview..).
. Do you consider yourself a leader or a follower?.
. Describe your perfect job..
. Why do you want to work for us?.
. What are your long-range and short-range goals and objectives, when and why did you establish these goals, and how are you preparing yourself to achieve them?.
. What goals, other than those related to your occupation, have you established for yourself for the next ten years?.
. What do you see yourself doing five years from now?.
. What do you really want to do in life?.
. What are the most important rewards you expect in your career?.
. What do you expect to be earning in five years?.
. Why did you choose the career for which you are preparing?.
. Which is more important to you—the money or the type of job? Why? What motivates you?.
. What do you consider to be your greatest strengths and weaknesses? Give examples..
. How would you describe yourself?.
. How do you think a friend or professor who knows you well would describe you?.
. What motivates you to put forth your greatest effort?.
. How has your education/experience prepared you for a career in ______________?.
. Why should I hire you?.
. What qualifications do you have that make you think that you will be successful in ___________ (your field)?.
. How do you determine or evaluate success?.
. What do you think it takes to be successful in an organization like ours?.
. In what ways do you think you can make a contribution to our organization?.
. What qualities should a successful ______________ (manager, teacher, etc.) possess?.
. Describe the relationship that should exist between a supervisor and those reporting to him or her..
. What two or three accomplishments have given you the most satisfaction? Why?.
. Describe your most rewarding professional experience. .
. If you were hiring someone for this position, what qualities would you look for?.
. Why did you select this company?.
. What led you to choose your field?.
. What areas of your previous position did you like best? Why?.
. What areas of your previous position did you like least? Why?.
. If you could do so, how would you plan your career differently? Why?.
. What changes would you make in your present company? Why? .
. Do you have plans for continued study? An advanced degree?.
. What have you learned from participation in volunteer activities?.
. In what kind of work environment are you most comfortable?.
. How do you work under pressure?.
. In what part-time or full-time jobs have you been most interested? Why?.
. How would you describe the ideal job for you?.
. Why did you decide to seek this position?.
. What do you know about our company?.
. How do you think a friend or professor or co-worker who knows you well would describe you?.
. What was your most favorite boss and least favorite boss and why? (It shows what management style works best for you and least).
. What two or three things are most important to you in your job?.
Sample Questions You May Want to Ask During an Interview
Potential employees want to know you are interested in them and expect you to ask them some questions. Here are some to consider:
. What are the daily activities and responsibilities of the job? What are the most important responsibilities? What are the least important?
. What is the title and background of the immediate supervisor?
. How would you describe the organizational culture?
. What are the plans/projections for growth?
. What is the reputation of this department in the firm?
. How will my work be evaluated?
. What career paths are available for me?
. What are the opportunities for advancement?
. Who would I be reporting to or working with?
. What are the biggest organizational challenges for this company and industry?
. What is the leadership style and value system of the top two executives? (Value systems run down from the top usually)
. How many people have held this position in the last 3 years and why did they leave? (That
tells you if it is a difficult boss, how promotable the spot is, or if the company has some
. May I see a company organization chart?
Behavioral Interview - Sample Questions
. Describe a time when you had to motivate a person who was experiencing difficulty in their work environment. What action did you take..
. Tell me about a time you provided excellent customer service. What did you do?.
. Give an example of when you had to communicate an unpopular decision. How did you handle it?.
. Tell me about the most stressful day you had in the last six months and how you dealt with it. What made it stressful for you?.
. Think about a time you arrived at work expecting to do certain projects but instead were given new projects and had to drop everything to work on them. What steps did you follow to organize and prioritize?.
. Describe a time when you addressed a difficult situation with a co-worker. What was the outcome?.
. Give an example of a time you were not satisfied with a procedure, policy or process. What did you do? What was the outcome? Tell me about a time you were proud of your decision-making skills. Pick a technical problem you had to solve, give the details involved in it, and tell me about what you did to create the solution to that problem..
. Give an example from your current job that would reflect on your ability to deal with pressure..
. Describe a situation in your job that has successfully tapped into your creative skills. Be specific..
Frequently Asked Interview Questions
. What exactly do you want from us? (also known as describe your job.).
. Why did you leave your last job?.
. What's your best accomplishment? (Tell me about the highlight of your career.).
. What are you good at? (What are your strengths? What's your strong suit?, Sell yourself.).
. What's wrong with you? (What are your weaknesses? What's the one thing about yourself that you would improve? What's the one piece of advice you wish you had coming into your last job?).
. Describe a time you failed..
. Will you get along with your potential boss?.
Questions for You to Ask
About the Job and the Company:
. What will be the scope of my responsibilities?.
. Where does this job fit in the overall organization?.
. What qualifications are important for this position?.
. What will it take in this position to be successful?.
. What are the future growth plans for the company and what role will this job have in those plans?.
. What are the immediate job priorities?.
. May I see a job description?.
About the Boss, Peers and Subordinates:
. Who does this position report to? How many other direct reports are there to this position? Can you tell me a little about them?.
. Who will be my peers? Can you tell me about them? May I meet them at some point?.
. What is the management style of my boss?.
. How do you like to receive communication?.
Closing the Interview:
. What can I do to further convince you that I am the ideal candidate for this position?.
. When do you expect to make your decision?.
. How many candidates are there? How do my qualifications fit the job?.
. Is there anything that I have said or shown you that would make you pause before considering me as an ideal candidate for the job? (This gives you a chance to answer their oncerns).
. What is my/our next step?.